Dear Cosmetic World,
It’s all about the toner. We mostly love you, but true to form, you confuse us once again. What is the difference between a toner and an astringent and should we care? I think yes, but let’s read on.
A toner is water based. An astringent is alcohol based. At least it should be. Or used to be. There is the danger of drying out the skin with too much alcohol so astringents are mainly recommended for the oilier skin types. But caution is advised.
When people cleaned with regular bar soaps and heavy cold cream, residues on the skin were a huge issue. Cold creams, popular mid 19thcentury and onwards, were made with water (mostly rosewater), oils (almond was a fav), beeswax and maybe a little spermaceti (a wax like substance from the sperm whale). Some recipes also included butter and alcohol. Cold creams were used to help apply make-up and later, to remove it. Many users went to bed lathered in cold cream and were several pounds heavier, only to awake and feel that the skin was drowning. The cleansing ‘toner’ thus came into fashion out of necessity.
The goal of a toner and or astringent is to remove residue. Both reduce bacteria. As the alcohol also extends the shelf life of the product it is a rather attractive, inexpensive preservative for the manufacturer to add. However, we know from the recent recall of many sanitizers on the market that there are different qualities of alcohol out there. Again, we must be cautious, while remaining confused.
A true toner is supposed to be alcohol free and some companies do advertise them as such. That is the one you should choose. Some companies may claim no alcohol, but then list extracts on the label. Be careful when you see ‘extract’ on the label as they can contain between 8-15% alcohol.
Witch Hazel (how to grow your own) is a common and very popular toner ingredient and usually contains alcohol. But an alcohol-free variety is available. A few years ago, the Huffpost (formerly Huffington Post) had a good article advising an alcohol-free witch hazel toner. Thayers. I like what I read.
Paula’s Choice discourages buying any toner with witch hazel. Her research is extensive and we question whether it is a good option in a toner. Instead a ‘gentle makeup remover’ is suggested as a replacement. However, in analyzing the ingredient listing of the recommended product, a more truthful advertising would read, ‘Potentially harsh makeup remover. Take your chances.’ I would prefer alcohol free witch hazel. Once again, confusion reigns in our cosmetic world.
A toner’s job is to cleanse, calm, soothe, hydrate the skin. Our recipe contains no witch hazel so no confusion there. We have added Vitamin C to our organic rosewater base, to help remove residue. Pure essential oils of lavender and sweet orange enhance its cleansing and disinfecting properties. Our toner, like all good toners, helps to open the pores, making the skin quite excited to then receive a moisturizer.
Because there is no alcohol as preservative in our Facial Toner, buy fresh. Use and enjoy. Daily is best. Daily is smart. Make your skin happy and unconfused.
Soap. Tone. Moisturize. Naturally. Not at all complicated.